The Algerine captive; or, The life and adventures of Doctor Updike Underhill: six years a prisoner among the Algerines. [Three lines from Shakespeare] : Vol. I[-II]. : Published according to act of Congress.
Tyler, Royall, 1757-1826., Humphreys, David, 1752-1818, dedicatee.
Page  21

CHAP. II.

Despoiled of all the honours of the free,
The beaming dignities of man eclipsed,
Degraded to a beast, and basely sold
In open shambles, like the stalled ox.

AUTHOR'S Manuscript Poems.
ARGUMENT.

The Slave Market.

ON the next market day, we were stripped of the dress, in which we appeared at court A napkin was wrapped round our loins, and a coarse cloak thrown over our shoulders. We were then exposed for sale in the market place, which was a spacious square, inclos|ed by ranges of low shops, in different sections of which were exposed the va|rious articles intended for sale. One section was gay with flowers; another exposed all the fruits of the season. Grapes, dates, pomegranates, and orang|es Page  22 lay in tempting baskets. A third was devoted to sallads and pot herbs; a fourth to milk and cream. Between every section was a small room, where those, who come to market, might occa|sionally refresh themselves with a pipe of tobacco, a cud of opium, a glass of sher|bet, or other cooling liquors. Sherbet is composed of lemons, oranges, sugar, and water. It is what we, in New England, call beverage. In the centre of the mar|ket, an oblong square was railed in, where the dealers in beasts and slaves exposed their commodities for sale. Here were camels, mules, asses, goats, hares, dromedaries, women and men, and all other creatures, whether for appetite or use; and I observed that the purchasers turned from one article to the other, with equal indifference. The women slaves were concealed in a latticed shop, but the men were exposed in open view in a stall, situated between those appropriated Page  23 to the asses and to the kumrah, a wretch|ed looking, though serviceable animal in that country, propagated by a jack upon a cow. I now discovered the reason of the alteration in our dress; for, as the people here, no more than in New En|gland, love to buy a pig in the poke, our loose coats were easily thrown open, and the purchaser had an opportunity of ex|amining into the state of our bodies. It was astonishing to observe, how critically they examined my muscles, to see if I was naturally strong; moved my limbs in va|rious directions, to detect any latent lameness or injury in the parts; and struck suddenly before my eyes, to judge by my winking, if I was clear sighted. Though I could not understand their language, I doubt not, they spoke of my activity, strength, age, &c. in the same manner, as we at home talk in the swop of a horse. One old man was very crit|ical in his examination of me. He made Page  24 me walk, run, lie down, and lift a weight of about sixty pounds. He went out, and soon returned with another man. They conferred together, and the second was more critical in his examination than the first. He obliged me to run a few rods, and then laid his hand suddenly to my heart, to see, as I conjecture, if my wind was good. By the old man I was pur|chased. What the price given for me was, I cannot tell. An officer of the mar|ket attested the contract, and I was oblig|ed by the master of the shop, who sold me upon commissions, for the benefit of the concerned in the Rover, to lie down in the street, take the foot of my new mas|ter, and place it upon my neck; making to him, what the lawyers call, attornment. I was then seized by two slaves, and led to the house of my new master.

Perhaps the free citizen of the United States may, in the warmth of his patriot|ism, accuse me of a tameness of spirit, in Page  25 submitting to such gross disgrace. I will not justify myself. Perhaps I ought to have asserted the dignity of our nation, in despite of bastinadoes, chains, or even death itself. Charles the twelfth of Swe|den has however been stigmatized by the historian, as a madman, for opposing the insulting Turk, when a prisoner, though assisted by nearly two hundred brave men. If any of my dear countrymen censure my want of due spirit, I have only to wish him in my situation at Algiers, that he may avail himself of a noble opportunity of suffering gloriously for his country.